Letter | Published:

Jupiter’s atmospheric jet streams extend thousands of kilometres deep

Nature volume 555, pages 223226 (08 March 2018) | Download Citation


The depth to which Jupiter’s observed east–west jet streams extend has been a long-standing question1,2. Resolving this puzzle has been a primary goal for the Juno spacecraft3,4, which has been in orbit around the gas giant since July 2016. Juno’s gravitational measurements have revealed that Jupiter’s gravitational field is north–south asymmetric5, which is a signature of the planet’s atmospheric and interior flows6. Here we report that the measured odd gravitational harmonics J3, J5, J7 and J9 indicate that the observed jet streams, as they appear at the cloud level, extend down to depths of thousands of kilometres beneath the cloud level, probably to the region of magnetic dissipation at a depth of about 3,000  kilometres7,8. By inverting the measured gravity values into a wind field9, we calculate the most likely vertical profile of the deep atmospheric and interior flow, and the latitudinal dependence of its depth. Furthermore, the even gravity harmonics J8 and J10 resulting from this flow profile also match the measurements, when taking into account the contribution of the interior structure10. These results indicate that the mass of the dynamical atmosphere is about one per cent of Jupiter’s total mass.

  • Subscribe to Nature for full access:



Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.


  1. 1.

    Dynamics of Jovian atmospheres. Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech. 27, 293–334 (1995)

  2. 2.

    & Jovian atmospheric dynamics: an update after Galileo and Cassini. Rep. Prog. Phys. 68, 1935–1996 (2005)

  3. 3.

    Gravitational signature of Jupiter’s deep zonal flows. Icarus 137, 357–359 (1999)

  4. 4.

    Juno Final Concept Study Report. Technical Report AO-03-OSS-03 (New Frontiers, NASA, 2005)

  5. 5.

    et al. Measurement of Jupiter’s asymmetric gravity field. Nature 555, (2018)

  6. 6.

    Inferring the depth of the zonal jets on Jupiter and Saturn from odd gravity harmonics. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 676–680 (2013)

  7. 7.

    , & Constraints on deep-seated zonal winds inside Jupiter and Saturn. Icarus 196, 653–664 (2008)

  8. 8.

    & Zonal flow magnetic field interaction in the semi-conducting region of giant planets. Icarus 296, 59–72 (2017)

  9. 9.

    & An adjoint based method for the inversion of the Juno and Cassini gravity measurements into wind fields. Astrophys. J. 820, 91 (2016)

  10. 10.

    et al. A suppression of differential rotation in Jupiter’s deep interior. Nature 555, (2018)

  11. 11.

    et al. Jupiter’s interior and deep atmosphere: the initial pole-to-pole passes with the Juno spacecraft. Science 356, 821–825 (2017)

  12. 12.

    High-precision Maclaurin-based models of rotating liquid planets. Astrophys. J. 756, L15 (2012)

  13. 13.

    et al. The effect of differential rotation on Jupiter’s low-degree even gravity moments. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 5960–5968 (2017)

  14. 14.

    , & The deep wind structure of the giant planets: results from an anelastic general circulation model. Icarus 202, 525–542 (2009)

  15. 15.

    , & Thermal-gravitational wind equation for the wind-induced gravitational signature of giant gaseous planets: mathematical derivation, numerical method and illustrative solutions. Astrophys. J. 806, 270–279 (2015)

  16. 16.

    & Gravity and zonal flows of giant planets: from the Euler equation to the thermal wind equation. J. Geophys. Res. Planets 122, 686–700 (2017)

  17. 17.

    , & A full, self-consistent, treatment of thermal wind balance on fluid planets. J. Comput. Phys. 810, 175–195 (2017)

  18. 18.

    & Formation of jets and equatorial superrotation on Jupiter. J. Atmos. Sci. 66, 579–601 (2009)

  19. 19.

    , , & Gravitational signature of Jupiter’s internal dynamics. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L01204 (2010)

  20. 20.

    , & The Galileo probe Doppler wind experiment: measurement of the deep zonal winds on Jupiter. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 22911–22928 (1998)

  21. 21.

    & Mechanisms of jet formation on the giant planets. J. Atmos. Sci. 67, 3652–3672 (2010)

  22. 22.

    , & Predictions of thermal and gravitational signals of Jupiter’s deep zonal winds. Icarus 224, 114–125 (2013)

  23. 23.

    & Deciphering Jupiter’s deep flow dynamics using the upcoming Juno gravity measurements and a dynamical inverse model. Icarus 286, 46–55 (2017)

  24. 24.

    , , , & Interaction between eddies and mean flow in Jupiter’s atmosphere: analysis of Cassini imaging data. Icarus 185, 430–442 (2006)

  25. 25.

    A simple model of convection in the Jovian atmosphere. Icarus 29, 255–260 (1976)

  26. 26.

    & Generation of equatorial jets by large-scale latent heating on the giant planets. Icarus 207, 373–393 (2010)

  27. 27.

    et al. Comparing Jupiter interior structure models to Juno gravity measurements and the role of an expanded core. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4649–4659 (2017)

  28. 28.

    et al. The distribution of ammonia on Jupiter from a preliminary inversion of Juno microwave radiometer data. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 5317–5325 (2017)

  29. 29.

    et al. Microwave remote sensing of Jupiter’s atmosphere from an orbiting spacecraft. Icarus 173, 447–453 (2005)

  30. 30.

    et al. Changes in Jupiter’s zonal wind profile preceding and during the Juno mission. Icarus 296, 163–178 (2017)

  31. 31.

    Planetary Interiors (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984)

  32. 32.

    & CEPAM: a code for modeling the interiors of giant planets. Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 109, 109–123 (1995)

  33. 33.

    , , & Understanding Jupiter’s interior. J. Geophys. Res. Planets 121, 1552–1572 (2016)

  34. 34.

    , & Jupiter internal structure: the effect of different equations of state. Astron. Astrophys. 596, A114 (2016)

  35. 35.

    & The fuzziness of giant planets’ cores. Astrophys. J. Lett. 840, L4 (2017)

  36. 36.

    & Differential rotation in Jupiter: a comparison of methods. Icarus 267, 315–322 (2016)

  37. 37.

    Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (Springer, 1987)

  38. 38.

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)

  39. 39.

    Conventric Maclaurian spheroid models of rotating liquid planets. Astrophys. J. 768, 43 (2013)

  40. 40.

    , & Odd gravitational harmonics of Jupiter: effects of spherical versus nonspherical geometry and mathematical smoothing of the equatorially antisymmetric zonal winds across the equatorial plane. Icarus 277, 416–423 (2016)

  41. 41.

    et al. Jupiter gravity field from first two orbits by Juno. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4694–4700 (2017)

  42. 42.

    et al. Cassini imaging of Jupiter’s atmosphere, satellites and rings. Science 299, 1541–1547 (2003)

  43. 43.

    , , , & Atmospheric confinement of jet-streams on Uranus and Neptune. Nature 497, 344–347 (2013)

  44. 44.

    , & Wind-induced odd gravitational harmonics of Jupiter. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 450, L11–L15 (2015)

  45. 45.

    Estimate of Jupiter’s deep zonal-wind profile from Shoemaker-Levy 9 data and Arnold’s second stability criterion. Icarus 117, 439–442 (1995)

Download references


We thank M. Allison and A. Showman for discussions. The research described here was carried out in part at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) under the sponsorship of the Israeli Space Agency, the Helen Kimmel Center for Planetary Science at the WIS and the WIS Center for Scientific Excellence (Y.K. and E.G.); at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA (W.M.F., M.P. and S.M.L.); at the Southwest Research Institute under contract with NASA (S.J.B.); at the Université Côte d’Azur under the sponsorship of Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (T.G. and Y.M.); and at La Sapienza University under contract with Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (L.I. and D.D.). All authors acknowledge support from the Juno project.

Author information


  1. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel

    • Y. Kaspi
    •  & E. Galanti
  2. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • W. B. Hubbard
  3. Divison of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • D. J. Stevenson
    • , H. Cao
    •  & A. P. Ingersoll
  4. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas 78238, USA

    • S. J. Bolton
  5. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza Universita di Roma, 00184 Rome, Italy

    • L. Iess
    •  & D. Durante
  6. Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, Lagrange CNRS, 06304 Nice, France

    • T. Guillot
    •  & Y. Miguel
  7. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • J. Bloxham
    •  & H. Cao
  8. Space Research Corporation, Annapolis, Maryland 21403, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  9. NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • W. M. Folkner
    • , S. M. Levin
    •  & M. Parisi
  11. Institute for Computational Science, Center for Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

    • R. Helled
  12. Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • J. I. Lunine
  13. Leiden Observatory, University of Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands

    • Y. Miguel
  14. Department of Earth and Planetray Science, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • B. Militzer
    •  & S. M. Wahl


  1. Search for Y. Kaspi in:

  2. Search for E. Galanti in:

  3. Search for W. B. Hubbard in:

  4. Search for D. J. Stevenson in:

  5. Search for S. J. Bolton in:

  6. Search for L. Iess in:

  7. Search for T. Guillot in:

  8. Search for J. Bloxham in:

  9. Search for J. E. P. Connerney in:

  10. Search for H. Cao in:

  11. Search for D. Durante in:

  12. Search for W. M. Folkner in:

  13. Search for R. Helled in:

  14. Search for A. P. Ingersoll in:

  15. Search for S. M. Levin in:

  16. Search for J. I. Lunine in:

  17. Search for Y. Miguel in:

  18. Search for B. Militzer in:

  19. Search for M. Parisi in:

  20. Search for S. M. Wahl in:


Y.K. and E.G. designed the study. Y.K. wrote the paper. E.G. developed the gravity inversion model. D.J.S. led the working group within the Juno Science Team and provided theoretical support. W.B.H. initiated the Juno gravity experiment and provided theoretical support. W.B.H., T.G., Y.M., R.H., B.M. and S.L.W. provided interior models and tested the implications of the results. L.I., D.D., W.M.F. and M.P. carried out the analysis of the Juno gravity data. H.C., D.J.S. and J.B. supported the interpretation regarding the magnetic field. J.I.L. and A.P.I. provided theoretical support. S.J.B., S.M.L. and J.E.P.C. supervised the planning, execution and definition of the Juno gravity experiment. All authors contributed to the discussion and interpretation of the results within the Juno Interiors Working Group.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Y. Kaspi.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks J. Fortney and N. Nettelmann for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

About this article

Publication history






Rights and permissions

To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink.


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.